Shadow Scholar (Revised)

It is said that everyone has the ability or potential to write a blockbuster novel that will ensure our fame and fortune. JK Rowling became an overnight superstar writer with ‘Harry Potter and Series’. Now Ed Dante from Philadelphia has done that and proved by writing ‘The Shadow Scholar’ that has already been scorned by the whole academic enterprise but enlighten literature loving students like the writer of this article. Ed Dante? Well, he is now the famous writer of the book ‘The Shadow Scholar’.

Now, this is not a chilly novel one reads shivering in a cold winter night with a cup of strong coffee rather it is a serious work of a struggling writer who at least has been honest to himself and to his profession as a ghost writer.

Ed Dante is the pseudonym of Dave Tomar, a graduate of Rutgers now a freelancer writer living in Philadelphia. The writer ignited controversy in the academic community, when his article ‘The Shadow Scholar’ appeared in the Chronicle review section of the Chronicle of Higher education. The article detailed the writer’s experiences as a ghostwriter paid to help students cheat at every level of formal education. The writer claims to have assisted college, graduate and doctoral students by accepting money in exchange for writing their assignments over the course of a decade. The Shadow Scholar was met with extensive debate amongst students, educators, and parents. It became the most popularly commented on article in the Chronicle Review’s history and brought wider attention to issues relating to student cheating, plagiarism, and academic integrity.

Mr. Dante describes himself, as “I am a hired gun, a doctor of everything, an academic mercenary.”

Mr. Dante’s honest but self-aggrandizing introduction of himself seems like someone who is also a whistle blower-someone who has probably earned more as a whistle blower than as a ghostwriter. No wonders, on ABC world news his voice and face were concealed. He is honest about his work as ghostwriter, no doubt about it, but why should he conceal his identity? If he is ‘a doctor of everything’ or ‘an academic mercenary’ that he should be ‘seen’ and ‘heard’ more Millions of students worldwide can probably take online creative writing course from him.

However, as an honest whistle blower, Mr. Dante’s has shown us the dark side of education system by working for an online company that earns thousands of dollars by creating original essays provided by cheating students. Now this is a bad news for many hardworking and honest students including myself that a few of my classmates have their assignment work written by ghostwriters like Mr. Dante.

He describes his skills by saying “I’ve written 5000 pages of scholarly Literature on tight deadlines”.

This makes us conclude two points. First, Mr. Dante should probably have pursued a qualification in creative writing or as a Professor at Harvard University. Secondly, by helping these students, he is just pushing the grades standards bar even higher. Professor will expect a lot more from students, and not everyone can meet those standards. This will result in even more desperate students who probably would want Ghost Writers like Mr. Dante’s assistance.

Also, I want the author (Mr. Dante), a person who proudly admits to lying to his clients about his qualifications, not to undermine the whole academic enterprise. Such malice not only brings the whole education system in poor light but also demotivates dedicated students including myself. However, this brings to attention-how the colleges are going to find out? Proving that a student purchased a paper out of desperation or incompetency rather than created it themselves would be nearly impossible to prove, and certainly frowned upon by administration unless there was concrete proof. Moreover, both colleges and students would waste their valuable time by trying, to prove who wrote what and by whom’.

Ed Dante probably out of desperation or recession was forced to take profession of ghostwriter. A desperate person would only choose a dishonest profession like this. I know this is good for business; but what integrity in education system is he trying to expose? If he has so much integrity, why doesn’t he do volunteer service and teach free-on-line creative writing to the English-as-a second language students to the hopelessly deficient students or lazy rich kid? But Mr. Dante would not do such service because he seems more desperate and miserable than the students he is helping with. This is the classic case of the phrase “The pot calling the kettle black.”

At least, college and university professors have integrity in them by making an honest living by teaching students unlike Mr. Dante who as a ghostwriter is earning money ($$$) by cheating. This seems outrageous, illogical and impragmatic! Academia should tighten their seat belts and scrutinize the loopholes that has caused. Ed Dante and other ghost writer to take advantage of creative writing should be made compulsory irrespective of the field of study, Perhaps, academic will. One day consider writing to be a necessary, if not pre requisite, skill. Writing is a huge necessity in academic and professional world, but the course that are supposed to teach it are often viewed as little more than necessary evils but Mr. Dante rightly points that skills are more important than grading to be achieved. Especially for international students for whom English is a second language, writing articles and essays for assignment can be a pain in the neck.

You can’t fail someone for not being able to summarize the work that they have written. Many software engineering students especially those with English as a second language fail for not being able to explain how their code work! He wonders ‘why students cheat in the first place’. Indeed, both parents and academia are to be blamed when ghostwriters like Ed Dante not only earn good salary but also achieve their 15minute of fame. Instead of being as cynical and pessimist as Ed Dante has become of today’s education system, let all the readers, students, parents, and academicians join hand together and strengthen the education system by being honest to our work.

As Francis Bacon said years ago ‘Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.’

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